KOLKATA: A 44-year-old schoolteacher died when an SUV dashed into her at a breakneck speed and flung her into the air. As she landed on the bonnet, the driver took a sharp turn, throwing her to the ground and then, ran her over while speeding away. Police have got the vehicle’s registration number but are yet to track down the driver.
The incident took place early on Saturday at Kalighat, barely 50m from the victim’s home.
Subhalaxmi Banerjee, a resident of Syama Prasad Mukherjee Road who taught English at Arya Kanya Vidyalay in central Kolkata, had gone out around 6 in the morning to buy flowers for puja at home. After buying flowers from shops near the Kalighat temple, she was on her way back home, when she stopped at a traffic signal, waiting for the light to turn red so that she could walk across the road. When she reached the middle of the road, the SUV reportedly sped at her and hit her before she could react. The impact was such that Subhalaxmi was flung in the air and she fell on the bonnet of the same vehicle. In his attempt to flee the spot and apparently to shake her off, the driver took a sharp turn towards right, and Subhalaxmi flee on to the road. The fleeing driver did not stop but reportedly ran her over as he sped away.
As the SUV driver sped towards Rashbehari Avenue, he tried to jump a signal, rammed into a car waiting at the signal and nearly hit a traffic cop who tried to flag him down.
Cops on the road imm-ediately took Subhalaxmi first to M R Bangur Hospital and then, to SSKM Hospital, where she was declared brought dead.
“I was selling tea at my stall. I had seen the woman about to cross the road. Suddenly, the vehicle appeared from nowhere and dashed into her. Before we could react, the vehicle took a turn and again ran her over and left at an equally high speed. But I managed to note down the SUV’s registration number,” said Pratap Pailan, owner of a nearby tea stall.
It was the Banerjees’ domestic help, who first learnt about the death, when she went out looking for Subhalaxmi. “Boudi always offered puja before leaving for her school. Like every day, she had gone to buy flowers. Worried that she was taking way too long to return, I went out, looking for her. The flowersellers in front of the Kali temple know us and they said she left long ago. When I was asking some shop owners on the opposite pavement, a traffic police approached me and showed me her photograph. Her head was completely smashed,” said Bratabala Biswas, the help.
Subhalaxmi’s husband, Mrinal Banerjee, is a wildlife photographer and was in Siliguri when the incident took place. After his family informed him of the tragedy, he managed to buy a flight ticket and reached Kolkata by afternoon. “Our house is nearly a century old and we have a temple inside. A special puja is offered on Tuesdays and Saturdays and she went out to buy flowers for that,” was all that he could manage to say.
“We have checked the CCTV footage and got the number of the vehicle. We are trying to track it down,” said an officer at Lalbazar.
Though Subhalaxmi started walking across the road only when the traffic light had turned red, residents of the area said the non-functional timer at the signal leads to uncertainty among pedestrians as they are never sure when the traffic light will again turn green and till when it is safe to cross the road.